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13 Aug 2015

What Causes Stomach Bloating?

What Causes Stomach Bloating

Stomach bloating is often unexpected, and can be an extremely awkward condition as it can cause you to feel uncomfortable when sitting or moving around.

Most people experience bloating from time to time, either in relation to poorly digested food or perhaps in response to fizzy drink consumption. 

Usually, once excess wind has been expedited stomach bloating will pass. There are however many other causes of stomach bloating; today we’ll examine some of these causes, and possible preventions and treatments.

Common causes of stomach bloating

Common Causes of Stomach Bloating

If your stomach does become uncomfortably or unusually bloated, it could be due to one of the below culprits:

Pro-actively avoiding stomach bloating

Pro- actively avoiding stomach bloating

When we experience bloating and discomfort after eating it’s often associated with large levels of consumption – it may come after eating a really big meal, a weekend of food and drink ‘treats’, or not eating a balanced diet. These changes in eating habits impact on our digestion, leaving us feeling overly full, which can lead to experiencing soreness or pain from that feeling of fullness. 

Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and beans (among many others) are often associated with generating trapped wind, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to avoid them altogether. Think about reducing portion sizes first if you notice a reaction to particular vegetables.

Similarly, the manner in which we eat or drink can lead to trapped wind. Always try to sit down to eat, in a straight position, chewing slowly and thoroughly and avoiding talking and eating at the same time.

Understanding the many possible causes of stomach bloating

Understand the many possible causes of stomach bloating

For some, bloating is caused by the inability to properly process certain foods, also known as being ‘intolerant’ to them. Coeliac disease, where the intestine is unable to absorb gluten from the grains wheat, barley and rye, is one well-known example of food intolerance. 

Intolerances can lead to too much gas being produced in reaction to particular foods and can also lead to trapped gas or waste. If you suspect you have a food intolerance you should speak to your GP who will likely recommend that you try an ‘elimination diet’; this will help ascertain whether you do have an intolerance and what food, or food groups, you may need to reduce your consumption of or cut from your diet altogether. 

Irritable bowel syndrome can also produce some similar symptoms to food intolerances, though IBS can affect different people in different ways. Some report that the bloating of IBS can be eased with the use of probiotics or by drinking peppermint tea, though your GP may advise you to alter your fibre intake and perhaps prescribe antispasmodics to ease abdominal cramps. Exercise and activities that promote relaxation can also be recommended to tackle IBS, which can be exacerbated by stress. 

Being aware of the most common causes of bloating can help you recognise when and why you are experiencing stomach bloat allowing you to seek appropriate treatment. While stomach bloating is often extremely unpleasant, it can in many cases be self managed through changes in behaviour or diet and your GP will be able to offer advice on how best to tackle your unique case. 

For women who find they are bloated most days over a period of three weeks or more, it’s especially important to visit a doctor, as chronic stomach bloating can be an indicator of ovarian cancer.  You can find out more about ovarian cancer and stomach bloating by reading this NHS guide

This post is in no way a comprehensive guide to stomach bloating, nor does it constitute medical advice – so please contact a medical professional if you are concerned about symptoms you or someone else is experiencing.